How to Become a Correctional Officer in Illinois?

The Illinois Department of Corrections is responsible for supervising a total of 51 correctional facilities – including 29 correctional centers, seven adult transition centers, nine work camps, two impact incarceration programs (IIPs) and four reception/classification centers. Based in Springfield, the Department works towards maintaining the safety of the inmates they oversee and the upkeep of the various correctional facilities across the state.
The IIPs are one of the many services provided by the correctional officers in Illinois for the betterment of inmates. Implemented in 2000, the program focuses on developing self-esteem and inmate responsibility, along with addressing issues of substance abuse and underlying criminal behavior. With such programs in place, the state of Illinois aims to relieve the overcrowding in prisons and provide more meaningful services to those incarcerated.
If you are interested in becoming a correctional officer in Illinois, the following information would be of use to you.

How to Become a Correctional Officer in Illinois
How to Become a Correctional Officer in Illinois

Minimum Requirements to Become a Correctional Officer in Illinois

According to the Illinois Department of Corrections, the following minimum qualifications are required of aspiring correctional officers:

  • Candidate must be 18 years of age
  • Candidate needs to possess a valid driver’s license
  • Candidate should have a high school diploma or a GED certificate
  • Candidate should be a US citizen or authorized to work in the US
  • Candidate should be proficient in the English language

Note: You need to be a resident of the State of Illinois in order to work here as a correctional officer. If you are not, you may be considered for the job but only when all qualified Illinois residents have been used up. In addition, if non-residents are selected, they will need to establish residency in the state before the start of the employment.

Documents needed to apply for a Correctional Officer in Illinois

You will need to bring the following list of documents with you on the day of testing:

  • Employment Application – CMS 100
  • Applicant Information Sheet
  • Release of Information
  • Employment Reference Check – DOC 0037

The above forms are available on the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) website. In addition to these, you will also need to provide copies of the following:

  • Birth certificate
  • Citizenship verification, in case you are a naturalized citizen of the US. If you are not a naturalized citizen or a citizen, you will need to provide a permanent residence card.
  • High school diploma or GED
  • Selective Service System registration card
  • College transcripts
  • Photo ID
  • Valid Driver’s License

If you are or have previously been in the military, you will need to provide some additional documentation. The classifications of military service are as follows:

  • Veteran
  • Illinois National Guard/United States Military Reserve
  • Disabled Veteran/Purple Heart Recipient
  • Unremarried Spouse/Parent of Disabled or Deceased Veteran

The details of all the documents that need to be provided with each classification are available on the IDOC website.

Steps to Become a Correctional Officer in Illinois

The screening process is a 4-step process that all applicants are required to complete. Applicants must get the minimum score for eligibility on all of these tests.

Step 1: Clear the Test of Adult Basic Education (TABE) – Pass/Fail

This exam will test your vocabulary, reading and writing skills. In order to pass, you will need to exhibit English language proficiency skills of a high school senior.

Step 2: Pass the Observation Examination (0-20 Points)

The object of this test is to judge the applicant’s capacity to fairly and comprehensively evaluate a scenario and create a detailed incident report. Applicants will have three minutes to assess an incident and take notes. An additional five minutes will be given to write the report.

Step 3: Pass a Structured Oral Rutan Style Interview and Writing Sample (0-100 points)

Applicants will be interviewed by two separate screeners, using a standard Rutan interview questionnaire.

Step 4: Get your Military Service Points (0-10)

These are points awarded to members of the armed forces and veterans. You can receive a maximum of 10 points with your military service, depending on your veteran status. For complete details on the documentation required for this step, visit the IDOC website.

Step 5: Clear the Background Investigations

This would involve inquiries through the Law Enforcement Agencies Data System (LEADS), about criminal history. Drug tests, employment reference checks and other tests may also be conducted.

Step 6: Clear a Physical Exam

Before you are employed, a complete medical checkup will be done, along with a physical exam and visual screening exam.
Once you have completed all the above steps, you may be hired by facilities across the state, based on the highest overall screening score. Applicants who get selected will have to attend a pre-service training program in Springfield, Illinois.

How much does a Correctional Officer make in Illinois?

According to the official Illinois Department of Corrections website, the starting salary of a Correctional Officer Trainee is $42,432. This training period lasts for a total of six weeks at the Corrections Training Academy. After completing these, candidates must complete a three month trainee period and a six month probationary period to become a certified Correctional Officer. At this point, the salary increased to $48,432 per year (as of 2014). According to 2017 data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Correctional Officers and Jailers made an annual mean wage of $56,070 in Illinois, which is higher than the national mean wage.
The State of Illinois also gives the employees health, dental and vision insurance, along with a life insurance policy. For more details on the benefits and salary figures, you may want to check the official IDOC website.